Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

This year’s potatoes, last year’s mushrooms

August 26, 2006

Purple peruvian potato mash with pickled grey agarics
Peruvian purple potato mash with pickled grisets (tricholoma terreum). Colours unretouched.

It’s a luxury to wear yer bikini top as a bra and to get sick of peaches and yer own homegrown tomatoes, but now that the temperatures are regularly dipping below 28°c, Lawd knows we need our carbs. I’m longing for autumn’s heavier food and I can’t wait to go mushrooming, so this morning I went on a one course sabbatical from summer food. Good thing we’re not really subsistence farmers because we’d be subsisting on this one meagre portion. The rest of the Purple Peruvian potatoes are still unseasonally in the ground, as tiny as you please. Next year’s seeds.

What do they taste like? Good texture, nutty and full of flavour, almost cashew-like. I recommend eating these Peruvians. But growing them? For a potato that’s supposed to be hardy, they didn’t stand up very well to the neglect and covercrop takeover that they suffered at K’tje’s hands this year. I’m reserving judgement until next year when I give them a go in my own kitchen garden. They’re so beautiful, it’s like handling jewels.

Mash in the making
Mash in the making. Colours unretouched.

Potato Mash

2 parts potatoes
1 part creme fraiche
pinch of fleur de sel to taste

Boil potatoes dirty and unpeeled in a pan of salted water. When they’re soft enough, pour off the muddy hot water and fill the pan with cold water. Let sit for a moment and then peel the papery skin off in one fell swoop. This is the easiest method for removing jackets from potatoes. Just the jacket and nothing more.

peruvian purple potatoes
Peel thusly. Colours unretouched.

Mash the above ingredients together with a fork or potatoe masher. Chunky is good in my book, but then again, I’m a hippy femme sauvage. Don’t be afraid to put the mash back on the flame to get it piping hot. You can make the mash and reheat later as needed. Restaurants always do.

Anyone who votes the way I do really has no business making quenelles.

About the mushrooms in the top images, they’re tricholoma terreum or petits grisets or grey agarics. Friend Peggy picked and pickled them last Autumn. Now she’s laid up healing her achilles tendon. I’m calling every day to find out if she’s well enough to go mushrooming. And Peggy replies every day by asking me if I made it rain up in the mountains.

debra at 23:39 | | post to


  1. I’ve never seen a purple papa,
    I’ve never ever eaten one;
    This much I can tell you, Mam;
    I rather see than be one.

    With apologies to Ogden Nash.

    Comment by dad — August 28, 2006 @ 6:43


    Comment by Debra van Culiblog — August 28, 2006 @ 8:19

  3. I’ve been eating purple carrots lately, a variety called, I believe, “Purple Haze”. Bright beetroot-purple on the outside (which the cooking-water also goes), orange on the inside. Very sweet and toothsome.

    Comment by ramage — September 3, 2006 @ 22:47

  4. Hi Ramage, I’m growing purple haze in my garden and I love them. Sweet and toothsome is a god description, especially because the other carrots weren’t tasty at all. I have only eaten the purple haze raw so didn’t realise about the purple water.

    Comment by debra — September 4, 2006 @ 2:59

  5. Nice, aren’t they? A supermarket item here, I’m afraid (Sainsbury’s) - grown in Norfolk, though. The water’s nice with lemon squash/juice. They only take about 5 minutes or so to cook.

    Comment by ramage — September 4, 2006 @ 22:40

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